This quick bread is truly the evidence that treats made without wheat flours or loads of refined sugars can be just as good (if not better) than their conventional counterparts. The original recipe has been passed down from a family friend and is made with the traditional ingredients of AP flour and granulated sugar. I’ve always loved the orange and date flavors but wanted to see if the bread could be made without grains. The recipe went through several iterations of trial and error with various types of flour and ingredient amounts before landing on one I feel good about. (I think it’s better than the original!)
As a little background, the desire to come up with grain-free recipes does not come from celiac disease or any other current health condition. However, there are a few reasons that I think reducing grain consumption in the diet is important for me as well as our greater society. First, our cultural diet is based in grains, particularly wheat. (This is a literal statement if we think of the 1990s food pyramid!) Most of that wheat is stripped of its nutrients, so by replacing it with other whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, we are diversifying and optimizing our nutrient intake. Second, the overload of grains and sugars in the western diet leads to increases in blood sugar that can set the stage for a host of chronic diseases – diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, to name a few. And lastly, even if you don’t have celiac disease or a serious allergy to wheat or other grains, the evidence is mounting that gluten and similar grain-based proteins cause inflammation and may exacerbate autoimmune conditions.
But back to the date bread! I thought this was absolutely delicious on its own or slathered with a little Kerrygold butter. I found it to be perfectly sweet from the dates alone, but if you like things on the sweeter side, add a few tablespoons of maple syrup or honey to the recipe. Enjoy!
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
- Zest from 2 oranges
- 1 1/2 packed cups pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups fine almond flour
- ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 thinly sliced orange rounds (optional – for decoration)
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the orange juice, zest, 1 cup dates, and the ghee or coconut oil in a blender or food processor, and puree. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and add the vanilla and eggs. Stir to combine. Add the almond flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and stir until combined. Chop the additional 1/2 cup dates and mix those into the batter.
Spoon into the prepared loaf pan, and smooth the top. Decorate with orange rounds, if desired. Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the bread rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
The bread saves well in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.